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Full text of "Field Observations on sugar-Cane Insects in the United States in 1912"

f. // 








T. S. DEPAR rMENT OF AGRICULTURE, 

BUREAU OF ENTOMOLOGY -CIRCULAR No. 171. 

L O. HOWARD. F.nlomologia «nd Chief olButemu. 



FIELD OBSERVATIONS ON SUGAR-CANE INSECTS 
IN Till: UNITED STATES IN 1912. 



BY 



T. E. BOLLOWAY, 

Entomological Attit 






.TON : GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFTICE : 191) 







B UREA V OF ENTOMOLOG Y. 

L. O. Howard; Entomologist and Chief of Bureau. 

C. L. Marlatt, Entomologist and Acting Chit flu Absence of Chief '. 

R. S. Clifton, Executivi Assistant. 

W. F. Tastet, Chief Clerk. 

F. H. Chittenden, in charge of truck crop and stored product insect investigations. 

A. D. Hopkins, in charge of fore it insect investigations. 

W. D. Hunter, in charge of outhet i field crop insect investigations. 

F. M. Webster, in charge of cereal and forage insect invt filiations. 

A. L. Quaintance, in charge of deciduous fruit insect investigations. 
E. F. Phillips, in charge of &< 

D. M. Rogers, in charge of preventing spread of moths, field uork. 
Rolla P. Currie, in charge of editorial u 
Mabel Colcord, in charge of library. 

Southern Field Crop Insect Investigations. 

W. D. Hunter, in charge. 

W. D. Pierce, J. D. Mitchell, G. D. Smith, E. A. McGregor, Harry Ptnkus, 

B. R. Coad, G. N. Wolcott, W. A. Thomas, R. \Y. Moreland, C. E. Hester, 
engaged in cotton-boll weevil invi I iga ' 

A. C. Morgan, G. A. Runner, S. E. Crumb, D. C. Parman. engaged in tobacco 

insect investigation. 
F. C. Bishopp, A. H. Jennings, H. P. Wood, W. V. King, engaged in tick investigate 
T. E. Holloway, E. R. Barber, engaged in sugar-cane invect investigations. 
J. L. Webb, engaged in rice in ligations. 

R. A. CooLEY, D. L. Van Dink, A. F. Conradi, C C. Krumbhaar, collaborators. 
[Cir. 171] 
U 






Circular No. 171. 

United States Department of Agriculture, 

BUREAU OK ENTOMOLOGY 
L. O. HOWARD, Entomologist and Chief of Bureau. 



FIELD OBSERVATIONS ON SUGAR-CANE INSECTS IN 
Till; UNITED STATES IN 1912. 

By T. i: Hoi low it, 

I 

ENTROD1 CTION". 

The results here presented are based on the records of field observa- 
tions made during the year L912. Though the information on any 
one insect is fragmentary ;ii best, it has been thoughl desirable t<> 
issue this reporl for the reason thai bo little is definitely known con- 
cerning insects affecting sugar cane in the United States thai even a 
very incomplete treatmenl of the Bubjecl is a contribution to the cur- 
renl knowledge. 

\ irvey of the sugar-cane areas of Louisiana and Texas was under- 
taken during the year, ami this work has been supplemented by some 
observations made in Mississippi and Alabama. In subsequent 
reports more attention will be given to the States lasl mentioned, as 
well as to Georgia and Florida, In it the pro-, of other work in the pasl 
has rendered it impossible to give these States the attention they 
deserve. 

Credit and the thanks of the writer are due to Mr. K. R. Barber, of 
this bureau, iov making a number of field examinations, mainly the 
final observations in northern Louisiana and those in Mississippi and 
Alabama. 

■rm. -i G \i: -i wi. moth BORER. 

Special attention was given to the determination of the percentage 
of infestation of the moth borer, this being the principal inseel inju- 
rious to sugar cane in this country. The plan adopted W8S to examine 
125 Btalks of sugar cane in a field, choosing the stalks in 5 differenl 
groups of 25 stalks each. The uninfested and the infested -talks in 
these groups were counted, and the percentage of infestation was 
determined from this data. In actual practice this proceeding ' 
changed to some extent. More than l_'.") stalks were sometimes 

Ir. 171-13 1 



2 l EELD OBSERVATIONS OX SUGAB CANE INSECTS. 

examined, and sometimes it seemed preferable to examine 75 stalks 
in each of two fields rather than to concentrate the work on one field. 
The number of fields examined in one vicinity varied from one to four, 
depending on the amount of time at the disposal of the inspector. 
The infestation of the moth borer set ms to be fairly uniform in a given 
district, and it is believed that I lie results obtained give a good idea 
of the relative infestation by the insect. 

Examinations were made from May 24 to November 20, 1012. It 
was difficult to determine the full infestation of the moth horer during 
the first part of the season, however, and in the table which follows 
the results for October and November only are given. Early in the 
season the cane can hardly be carefully examined without damaging 
the plant, and the infestation of the moth horer is then small com- 
pared to the infestation that may he expected later. The dates of 
inspection are given in the table because the infestation seems nor- 
mally to increase until the cane is cut. Thus the infestation of a 
certain field would probably be greater on November 1 than on 
October 1. Comparisons of the different percentages can be made 
more accurately if this is kept in mind. 

Table showing the jk ra ntagt of sugar cane infested by the moth borer at various places 

i he Souther a States itt 1U12. 



State. 


Near town ot city of 


Parish or county. 


Date of 
Inspec- 
tion. 


Per cent 

of inf sta- 
tion. 


Louisiana 


Alexandria 




Nov. 8 
on. 29 

Nov. 7 
Oct. 2s 

....do.... 







Baton Kouge 




78 




Iiunkie 











56 




do 




59 






81 Mur\ 


Oct. 31 

Oct. 30 
Nov. 1 
Oct. 17 
Nov. 11 
Nov. 12 
Oct. 7 
Oct. 8 
Oct. y 

Nov. 13 
Oct. 12 
Oct. 11 
Oct. 27 
Nov. IS 
Oct 24 
Nov. 14 
Oct. 28 
...do.... 


47 








57 






St. Mary 


4 




X. u Orleans 




59 






Lincoln 









Caddo 











62 






Hidalgo 


99 








88 




San Benito 


do 


61 






Fort Bind 














Mississippi 













Lincoln 







Hattiesburg 














Alabama 













Dallas 
















The foregoing table indicates that the infestation of the moth borer 
varies from 99 per cent (or practically all canes infested) at a point 
in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to per cent (or no canes infested) 
at places in northern Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, and even 
at Sugar Land and Victoria, Tex. At Victoria our notes are corrobo- 
rated by Mr. J. 1). Mitchell, a resident agent of the Bureau of Ento- 
mology, and planters near there are entirely unfamiliar with the moth 

[Cir. 171] 



I hi n 0B8I i:\ \ i 10! 

borer. Cane baa been grown for - 

and it ia unlikelj thai anj new varieties have been in 

in 11 general ion. 

I ,ema evident from tl thai the moth borer 

never entered certain restricted districts, while il has probablj I" 
hnported with shipments of »eed cane to places where an efforl i 
been made to obtain new and better v< ne. The preset 

,,f the moth borer in Louisiana >unted for l>.\ the belief that il 

. introduced in shipment "!'''-• uhl1, 

, ,„ ... hi the Rio Grandi \ probably due to accidental inti 

ductioua from Louisiana or Mexico, provided it is not native to tb 
pari of Texas. However this maj be, the moth borer is evidently 
absenl from the sirup-producing regions of Texas and Louisiana, 
where sugar cane is grown only as an incidental crop, while the insi 
i> preeenl in the BUgar-producing regions (except at Sugar Land wl ■ 
Bugar cane is of vital importance and where ne* and better varieties 
are desired and obtained. The results from examinations in Ala- 
lia and Mississippi concern sirup-producing communities, ai i 

esults from Texas and Louisiana. These findings go to 
Btrengthen the position that introductions e should be 

made with greal care if injurious re to be excluded. 

A most noteworthy result of the examinations during the year is 
the discovery of eggs of the moth borer I by the hymen 

•us parasite 2 mma minutum Riley, by Mr. 

Gilbert E. Bodkin, Government economic biologist of British Guiana, 

ii.-.,. Examining sugar cane with the writer ai Audul 
p , ans, in September, he found the black egg m 

the moth borer on the leaves of the planl B miliar with the 

work of the parasite in British Guiana he was sure that tl 
parasitized. Parasites were afterwards reared from the eggs by the 
writer, and they were found to be of th< ned, which 

occurs in many place- in this and other countries. The parasite, 
however, had not previously been reared from the moth borer 

iu the United S 

Later the writer found parasitized eggs of the moth borer 
Brownsville, Tex., Donna. Tex., Donaldsonville, La., -1 Franklin, 

The larvae of a predaceous hectic were found on sugar cane by 
Mr. !•".. R. Barber, near Montgomery, A October 26, and by the 

writer near Baton Rouge, La .ami La Fayette, La., in October, and 
near San Benito. Tex., in November. These larvae were not i 
to attack the borer, though they may do - 

Evidences of larval pai number 

of places, but these are somewhat doubtful. 

1T1] 



4 FIELD OBSERVATIONS OX SUGAR-CANE INSECTS. 

THE SUGAR-CANE MEALYBUG. 

(Pseu/docorru.s calceolaria Mask.) 

The examinations to determine the infestation of the mealybug 
were made chiefly in connection with the work on the moth borer. 
The mealybug appeared in small numbers at the experiment station 
at Audubon Park during the summer of 1912, and by November 26 
it was difficult to find a single stalk of the cane then on the fields 
which was entirely free of the insect. Near Poydras, St. Bernard 
Parish, La., a few mealybugs were found on one stalk of cane on 
September 10. On September 12 a small infestation was found in 
Jefferson Parish, near New Orleans (on St. Martin plantation). The 
mealybug in fairly large numbers was found by Mr. E. R. Barber 
at English Turn, Plaquemines Parish. La., on September 24. Near 
Franklin, La., the writer found a slight infestation on October 31. 
The green fungus which attacks the mealybug was observed at two 
places in Orleans Parish, La. 

The mealybug was discovered by the writer at Brownsville, Tex., 
for the first time on October S. A rather heavy infestation occurred 
on a limited number of canes of various new varieties at the experi- 
ment station. The bisect had evidently been brought hi with the 
cane from Louisiana or the Tropics. The infested cane was soon after 
destroyed by those in charge in an effort to eradicate the mealybug 
from the experiment station grounds. 

It is evident that the mealybug has infested only a limited territory 
in the United States. Precautions should be taken to prevent its 
spread to uninfested regions. The problem of the mealybug is com- 
plicated in certain parts of Louisiana, where the Argentine ant (Irido- 
myrmc.r humilis Mayr) also occurs, as the two species are of benefit to 
each other, and the ant aids in the spread of the mealybug. 

THE SUGAR-CANE WEEVIL BORER. 

Concerning the weevil borer we quote our remarks in another 
circular, 1 which are as follows : 

A note in the possession of the •writer records a weevil as having been reared from 
young shoots of sugar cane which were collected at Fairview Plantation, Berwick. 
La., on April 28, 1910, by Mr. D. L. Van Dine. Mr. Van Dine found the lame just 
above the surface of the ground. Mr. E. R. Barber of this office states that he found 
pupae of weevils in the sugar cane at Audubon Fark. New Orleans, in 1911. During 
the early summer in 1912 the writer found weevil borers in the young sugar-cane 
plants at Audubon Park and at the experiment station at Brownsville. Tex. The 

1 Insects Liable to Dissemination in Shipments of Sugar Cane. By T. E. Holloway. Cir. 165, Bur. 
Ent., U. S. Dept. Agr., 1912. 
[Cir. 171] 



FIELD OBSERVATIONS OS BUOAR-CAN1 IN8E( TO. D 

Qi fouu ' na^ ill'' were in the lai bble 

(.in.. I., l. u the nurface "i the ground, and Dear the poinl where il" 
left the old etubble in plant caneal Audubon Parli the weevil lai und 

below tin- surfai •■. and near the poinl where the young plant joined the seed i 

The Ian e were from one-eighth i te fourth oi an Inch In lengtb Bonn 

borer was found in the middle of the stem, while in other cases the borera were 
one aide of the stem. The injur) to the plant [alike the "dead heart 'caused by our 
moth borer, it seems probable that the moth borer ia blamed i"i some oi the injury 
caused by the weevils. 

Very likely th era have ' n Introduced In shipment e from 

the Tropica They are small, and tlnir w.rk ia lui r. i to find, so that they d 
easily have escaped the eye of the average person ila have been 

found up to date that there may be do oi casion for alarm, while on the other hand 
they may Increase In numbei become b 

Till. PALL AltMY WORM. 

Laphygmafrugiperda S a \ 

Following the wel weather of tin' spring of 1912 an outbreak of 
tin' fall anny worm, or southern grass worm, was noticed in the 
Southern States. Corn, rice, ami forage crops suffered more than 
sugarcane, hut i>m> field of cane thai tame under the writer's observa- 
tion was ruined by this or a nearly related specie-. This held was 
near La Fayette. La., and was examined on .Inly 20, I'M-'. The 
land was comparatively low ami undrained, thus providing a suitable 
place for the development of the "grass worm." which prefers a 
soil. The characteristic work of the larvaa was observed, though no 
larva 1 were found. LarvSB, however, were found attacking SUJ 

cane at Audubon Park. New Orleans, during July, 1912. 

In most cases it seems that no great injury from this Bpeciea was 

Buffered by Bugarcane, and the plants recovered so completely that 

in the grinding season the injury was hardly perceptible, and only a 
few leaves could ordinarily he found showing traces <>f the work of 
the larvae. 

I III. -i i; LR-CANE BEETLE. 

No definite records have been obtained during the year regarding 
the Bugar-cane beetle, and it is probable that it has done very little 

damage this season. 

May beetles (Lachnosterna spp.) are also known to attack su«rar 
cane, hut no injury due to them was observed during the year, ami 
Very few adults of the beetles were seen at New Oilcan-. 
[Clr. 171] 



FIELD OBSERVATIONS OX SUGAR-CANE INSECTS. 

THE SUGAR-CANE APHIDID. 

Winged and wingless forms of a dark brown aphidid, or plant louse, 
were observed on sugar cane at Audubon Park, New Orleans, on 
July 29, 1<)12, and at various times thereafter. They were attended 
by the Argentine ant in the same way as the mealybug is attended by 
this species. Very little is known concerning tbis aphidid. It is 
found in small colonies on the outside of the leaf axils on the cane 
plant, and apparently works in a manner somewhat similar to that of 
the mealybug, though it has been observed on the leaves of the cane 
rather than on the stalks themselves. In large numbers tbis species 
might be injurious to the eyes of cane for planting. 

These aphidids were also found near Donaldsonville, La., Franklin, 
La., llarlingen. Tex., Morgan City, La., and Poydras, St. Bernard 
Parish, La. 

INSECTS OF MIXOR IMPORTANCE. 
ANTS. 

The large red ant of Texas (Pogonomyrmex barbatus Smith), usually 
called the agricultural ant, was recorded during the year as attacking 
sugar cane. Near Brownsville, Tex., on June 12, the writer observed 
ants of this species busily gnawing a few young cane plants. The 
sound they made was similar to that of a gentle shower of ram. The 
ant- bad eaten the leaves of plants about 2 feet high, as well as the 
entire tops of two little plants about one-eighth inch hi diameter. 
This seems to be an exceptional habit on the part of the agricultural 
ant. 

Another species of ant was found nesting in holes in cane stalks 
made by the moth borer and in the spaces between the leaves and the 
stalk-. This observation was made near Brownsville, Tex., on Octo- 
ber 7, 1012. 

These ants should not be confused with the Argentine ant, which 
is of prime importance in its symbiotic relationship with mealybugs, 
scale insects, and aphidids. 

LEAFHOPPERS. 

Leafhoppers in very small numbers were observed several times 
during the season on sugar cane, but no injury due to them could be 
detected. 

FROGHOPPERS. 

Mr. Gilbert E. Bodkin and the writer found froghoppers on sugar 
cane, weeds, and grass near Poydras, St. Bernard Parish, La., on 
September 10. 1012. The froghoppers start on rank growth and then 

. 171] 



Ml i |. OB I >:' IT1< OAR-CANE 1 7 

transfer their attention I cane Forth] reason the fields should 

be kepi free of weeds and I peciallym moist situatioi 

humid climate is favorable to the development of these ins< 

■ 

The writer found termites or "white ants" in sugar cane which 
bad been cut into pieces of three joints each and planted. <>u 
June 12, 1912, when some of the cane wa dug up and examined, the 

shoots from it were apparently weak and some of tl yes had nol 

germinated. The cane was plantod neai Brownsville, Tex . and had 
been imported from Porto Rico, but the writer believes that the 
termites were probablj native to this country and that they attacked 
the cane readily, being attracted by the many cuts. Ii seems inad- 
visable from the entomological standpoint to cut cane in Bmall pie 
before planting, as many insects may easily gnaw into the Btalks 
through the unprotected ends. 






On August 9, 1912, Mr. E. R. Barber found grasshoppers very 
abundant in the cane fields near Sugar Land, Tex. Many strip] 
leaves, due to their work, were seen. The writer visited Sugar Land 
on October 12, but found no grasshoppers at that time. The cane 
ned to have recovered from the injury it had suffered earlier in 
the season from these insects. A grasshopper in the act of gnawing 
a cane leal' wa- observed near Baton Rouge, La. 



< ONCLl SIONS. 



The peculiar weather during the season of L912 probably accounts 
in |>art at Least for certain unexpected developments in insect life 
during the year. A long ami cold winter was followed in Louisiana 
by a wet spring. Breaks in the lever of the Mississippi River caused 
vast area- of land to he flooded, ami the excess of water complicated 
matter- further. We find a -low development of the moth borer 
ami the mealybug, which are tropical species and evidently require 
a greater amount of warm weather than our native insects. A- to 
the Bugar-cane hectic, the statement ha- been math' by some plant 
that this inseel does most damage in dry seasons and on high, sandy 
soil-, 30 that we may believe that the wet weather retarded it- 
development. The fall army worm, or southern grass worm, on the 
contrary, i- more injurious during wet weather, which will account 
for it- extraordinary abundance during the summer ^>\' 1'"-'. 

Practically no moth borers or mealybugs were found in the dis- 
trict near Morgan City. La., which had been overflowed some months 

(Cir. 171] 



8 FIELD OBSERVATIONS ON SUGAR-CANE INSECTS. 

previous to our observations. This indicates that these insects 
may possibly be controlled by flooding or excessive irrigation. 

Though these inferences are mainly, perhaps, of scientific interest, 
they may at some time be useful in an economic way. More impor- 
tant from the planter's point of view, however, is the evidence of 
the uneven distribution of the principal insects which are injurious 
to sugar cane. It seems that with reasonable caution in the ship- 
ment of cane the spread of most species, at least, can be curtailed 
if not altogether prevented. 

The number of species which were detected injuring cane is per- 
haps surprising, and it is possible that still other species will be 
discovered as the work progresses. Some of the species are appar- 
ently of no great importance, though there is a possibility that the 
weevil borer and the froghopper, which are now rare, may increase 
in numbers and become formidable pests. The aphidid, also, which 
is rather widely distributed, is to be regarded as an insect which 
may be capable of considerable injury. 

Approved : 

James Wilson, 

Secretary of Agriculture. 

Washington, D. C, January 18, 1913. 

[Cir. 171] 



ADDITIONAL COPIES of this publication 
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